Terri Lussier may not have been the official winner of Project Blogger, but she certainly made the most of her opportunity. Terri not only built a great blog in The Brick Ranch, she also became an active contributor to the Bloodhound Blog. On top of it all, she teamed up with her Project Blogger Coach, Greg Swan and used their experiences in the contest as a spring board to create RealEstateWeblogging101, an online tutorial for creating and improving RE blogs.
Hi Teri, the first blog posts that I could find from you were on Active Rain, but earlier this year you became a part of the Project Blogger Contest, and created The Brick Ranch. Can you tell us a little bit about how the contestants were selected, and why you were motivated to participate?
Firstly, thank you for inviting me to participate in your interview series.
I have been blogging for about a year, but I don’t recall where I first heard about blogging being used for RE. I found Maureen McCabe’s blog, and it probably had a link to Active Rain so I set up a profile on AR and got started. Around that time, but before or after I don’t remember, I also started blogging on Blogger, and somewhere along the way I set up a RealTown blog. Those blogs were abandoned. I just couldn’t find the right voice I suppose, or they just didn’t feel right. In hindsight, I now know I was stumbling around looking for how to really focus a blog, as opposed to simply having a blog. Having a blog is easy, focusing a blog is the tough part- it is still the tough part.
In February, Brian Brady posted a heads-up on AR that Greg Swann was looking for an apprentice for a competition. I checked out Greg’s site which, at the time, I was not familiar with. The Bloodhound Blog and the Bloodhound Realty site both struck a chord with me. When I applied, the details of the competition had not been published, so I hadn’t a clue what I was applying up for but I saw it as it an opportunity to learn from Greg, and thought it would be foolish not to give it a try.
From what I can tell, each coach used their own criteria for selecting apprentices, so you would have to ask each of them how they chose their apprentices. As I recall, the only rule was that the apprentice had never generated a lead from blogging.
For the first three months blogging on lenderama, nobody, and I mean nobody was reading it. It was probably a good thing though as it allowed me to learn “on the job”, without a whole lot of pressure. I imagine your experience was quite different.Yes?
Absolutely. And for two reasons: Not only was I in the Project Blogger competition, but Greg added me as a contributor to the Bloodhound. It was a fantastic experience to be introduced into the blogging world in that way as it forced me to just take a leap of faith and go for it. I’m always amazed at the number of Active Rain bloggers who never look outside to see what else is out there, and there are many RE bloggers who don’t participate on AR. Posting on both gave me an opportunity to stretch my skills. Once I added my home blog, I had a third audience to write for. I love it. If you are not growing, you are dying.
The pressure? The real pressure was, and always is, from within- I’m my own toughest critic, and only I can decide when I’ve succeeded. Bloggers are very generous people. All my efforts have been encouraged, even when they have missed the mark. Ninety-nine percent of bloggers who have given me or any of the apprentices feedback, have been nothing but supportive.
Now that Project Blogger has wrapped up, if you had it to do all over again, would you? Better yet, if a new Project Blogger contest is announced, would you recommend it to a peer?
I would do it again in a heartbeat. I was given a fantastic opportunity unlike any I’ve ever been given, and it was an amazing journey. I think if there is a new Project Blogger it is going to be easier in some respects as we guinea pigs have worked a few bugs out of the system. And maybe harder because now people know what to expect, perhaps expectations will be higher?
My only advice to a peer would be this: Understand why you are blogging. If you are blogging because you love to blog and enjoy sharing information, your focus, and your blog are going to be different from someone who is blogging primarily for lead generation. You should know going in to this competition where along the RE blogging spectrum you stand, but regardless, it shouldn’t stop you from participating.
Looking back at your first posts on Active Rain, they were all about Ohio. Now that you have The Brick Ranch, it appears to me that the focus of you AR posts have changed. On top of it all, you are contributing to the Bloodhound blog & RealEstateWeblogging101. How do you decide what to post and where?
That’s easy. The focus of each blog is completely different. The Brick Ranch is Huber Heights, or Dayton, or RE news that local readers might find interesting. I throw in stuff that I personally enjoy just to keep things interesting to me and it’s more personal. AR posts are usually tips for blogging, as part of the Project Blogger competition, or RE related, or I post to Localism. Bloodhound is national RE news. And they are three different ways to write. I can do whatever I want on TBR. AR does not appreciate lots of text, so you keep things short, quick, throw in a picture if you really want to wow the crowd. If I want to write at length or speak my mind and have a conversation, it goes to the Bloodhound. REW101 can be pulled from the Bloodhound. I’m a lucky girl. Every blogger should be so fortunate!
In general terms, including leads, referrals, listings and outright sales, has your blog generated any quantifiable business yet?
I have switched brokerages and am now working with a business partner. Because of that change, I have received leads. I was initially contacted by my partner through TBR. This goes back to the focus of my blog. TBR isn’t about quick lead generation. It’s about long term relationship building. I’ve received comments from Daytonians thanking me for TBR. In terms of my goals for TBR, I am obviously creating long term relationships.
I have this same conversation on a regular basis with RE bloggers. It goes like this, “Yeah, your blog in nice. Are you getting leads?” Once again, you have to know what the focus of your blog really is. Would you blog if it didn’t bring you leads? For me, the answer is yes. I love the writing, I love sharing information, and sparking interesting conversations. It’s about the dialog. I get enough feedback to know that people are talking about the things I blog about, even if they don’t leave comments. My writing is creating dialog and that’s a successful blog to me. It could be more successful in those terms, but it’s a four month old blog. Wait a year- I’ll be rocking this little corner of Ohio.
What are some of your favorite blogs?
Must I confess in public? My favorite blogs are weird little blogs by people I have nothing in common with. They are strangely voyeuristic glimpses into other people’s lives. These blogs always make me laugh, and are very well written, and the bloggers typically live overseas somewhere. Don’t ask. I can’t explain it except that I’m curious about people; I know me- who are you? In general, RE blogs are not terribly interesting to me because I’m writing the same sort of stuff, so I like to find blogs that offer some respite from the RE madness. Perhaps that’s my Project Blogger burnout talking. Or maybe I like to see how non RE bloggers connect with readers, at any rate, my favorites are cleverly written “just folks” blogs.
Do you have any tips or advice for a fellow real estate professional that’s looking to get into blogging?
Oh sure! Use WordPress, even if you don’t want to, and just start writing. Everyday. You don’t have to show anyone these first posts, you can delete them if you choose, but start. Find a clear, sharp focus for your blog. The clearer your focus, the better to target an audience.
This is not an advert, it is simply the truth: Go to RealEstateWeblogging101.com . Greg’s advice is the best around, and it’s freely given to anyone who cares to use it. This curriculum is nearly the only thing I used to create TBR from my end, but the advice there could be used for any blog, of any type. The nuts and bolts of a blog is one thing, but the writing is what will make the connection to readers. Blogging is about creating dialog, really connecting to readers who are living breathing people. You can’t have a dialog with Google. Google reads you, but Google is not your reader. Above all, have fun and enjoy blogging- really love it, or don’t do it at all.
Anything Else? Feel free to ask yourself a question if you like.
Hmm. I dunno. Boxers or briefs?
Boxers. Thanks Again! It was a pleasure!